Analyzing open-source software systems as complex networks

Xiaolong Zheng, Daniel Zeng, Huiqian Li, Feiyue Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Software systems represent one of the most complex man-made artifacts. Understanding the structure of software systems can provide useful insights into software engineering efforts and can potentially help the development of complex system models applicable to other domains. In this paper, we analyze one of the most popular open-source Linux meta packages/distributions called the Gentoo Linux. In our analysis, we model software packages as nodes and dependencies among them as edges. Our empirical results show that the resulting Gentoo network cannot be easily explained by existing complex network models. This in turn motivates our research in developing two new network growth models in which a new node is connected to an old node with the probability that depends not only on the degree but also on the "age" of the old node. Through computational and empirical studies, we demonstrate that our models have better explanatory power than the existing ones. In an effort to further explore the properties of these new models, we also present some related analytical results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6190-6200
Number of pages11
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number24
StatePublished - Oct 15 2008


  • Complex networks
  • Degree distribution
  • Open-source software systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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